SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox says he’s becoming more optimistic about COVID-19 vaccines as the weeks go by.
The state will now receive an increased allocation of the Moderna vaccine, bringing the total number of vaccines shipped to Utah each week to 40,000, including both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, according to the governor. Previously, the state was only receiving about 33,000 doses per week.
Additionally, state leaders anticipate that the number of vaccines shipped to the state could reach 100,000 per week by March or April, Cox said. Federal approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected in February, and AstraZeneca is also preparing to submit its vaccine for approval.
Approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to allow Utah to significantly ramp up vaccinations, especially among people who have comorbidities, Cox said. While it would still take months to vaccinate every Utahn with a rate of 100,000 doses per week, it’s still a big improvement, the governor said.
“I’m more optimistic now than I was even a week ago,” Cox said Thursday.
Thursday, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson and Utah Department of Health state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn provided a COVID-19 pandemic update at a news conference. Watch the replay of the news conference below.
New COVID-19 cases
Utah’s number of COVID-19 cases increased by 1,761 on Thursday, with no more deaths reported, according to the Utah Department of Health.
The rolling seven-day average number of positive cases per day is now at 1,710, according to the health department. The positive test rate per day for that time period is now 18.3%.
The health department estimates there are now 43,187 active COVID-19 cases in Utah.
Aside from several holidays where the state health department did not provide a COVID-19 statistics report, Thursday is the first day Utah has reported zero new COVID-19 deaths since September.
Additionally, the seven-day rolling averages for new COVID-19 cases and positive test results have also decreased from last week, health department state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said Thursday.
“All of these key indicators are definitely trending in the right direction,” she said.
Though Utah has seen those promising trends to start off the new year, Dunn urged people to continue doing what they’re doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Utahns are being vaccinated, but there are not enough people vaccinated yet for herd immunity, so people need to continue taking preventative measures to stop the spread, Dunn added. That means continuing to wear masks, socially distance, stay home when sick and practice good hygiene, she said.
People are also urged to upgrade their masks from cloth to medical-grade face coverings if possible, Cox said. Utah leaders are working with President Joe Biden’s administration to potentially acquire more of those types of masks to distribute to Utahns, Cox said.
“The right quality mask protects the user,” the governor said.
Thursday’s new numbers indicate a 0.5% increase in positive cases since Wednesday. Of the 2,000,023 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 17.1% have tested positive for the disease. The number of total tests conducted increased by 18,134 as of Thursday, and 10,917 of those were tests of people who had not previously been tested for COVID-19, according to state data.
There are 444 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in Utah, including 157 in intensive care, state data shows. About 84% of Utah’s ICU beds are occupied Thursday, including about 89% of ICU beds in the state’s 16 referral hospitals. About 56% of Utah’s non-ICU hospital beds are occupied, according to the health department.
A total of 267,027 vaccines have been administered in the state, up from 250,448 Wednesday. Of those, 43,089 are second doses, state data shows.
Thursday’s totals give Utah 342,445 total confirmed cases, with 13,279 total hospitalizations and 1,620 total deaths from the disease. A total of 297,638 Utah COVID-19 cases are now considered recovered, according to the health department.
This story will be updated.
Test results now include data from PCR tests and antigen tests. Positive COVID-19 test results are reported to the health department immediately after they are confirmed, but negative test results may not be reported for 24 to 72 hours.
The total number of cases reported by the Utah Department of Health each day includes all cases of COVID-19 since Utah’s outbreak began, including those who are currently infected, those who have recovered from the disease, and those who have died.
Recovered cases are defined as anyone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 three or more weeks ago and has not died.
Referral hospitals are the 16 Utah hospitals with the capability to provide the best COVID-19 health care.
Deaths reported by the state typically occurred two to seven days prior to when they are reported, according to the health department. Some deaths may be from even further back, especially if the person is from Utah but has died in another state.
The health department reports both confirmed and probable COVID-19 case deaths per the case definition outlined by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. The death counts are subject to change as case investigations are completed.
For deaths that are reported as COVID-19 deaths, the person would not have died if they did not have COVID-19, according to the health department.
Data included in this story primarily reflects the state of Utah as a whole. For more localized data, visit your local health district’s website.
More information about Utah’s health guidance levels is available at coronavirus.utah.gov/utah-health-guidance-levels.
Information is from the Utah Department of Health and coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts. For more information on how the Utah Department of Health compiles and reports COVID-19 data, visit coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts and scroll down to the “Data Notes” section at the bottom of the page.